National Chili Day Date in the current year: February 22, 2024

National Chili Day Chili con carne, often referred to simply as chili, is a favorite comfort food for many people because it’s hearty, delicious, and easy to make. Given its popularity, it is not surprising that the dish has an unofficial holiday dedicated to it. National Chili Day is celebrated annually on the fourth Thursday in February.

Chili con carne is translated from Spanish as “chili with meat”; it is a spicy stew that contains meat and chili peppers or chili powder, and often tomatoes and/or beans. Chili may contain other ingredients such as corn, and be seasoned with cumin, garlic and onions. It may be served as a separate dish (sometimes over rice or pasta), side or garnish, or used as an ingredient in other dishes (soups, chili dogs, chili burgers, etc.).

Chili con carne is believed to have originated in northern Mexico or south Texas. Descriptions of beef stews seasoned with chili pepper can be found in the writings of Bernardino de Sahagún. a 16th-century Franciscan friar, missionary and ethnographer who spent more than 50 years in New Spain. However, the first documented use of the term “chili con carne” is dated 1857.

Chili started to become popular in the United States in the late 19th century thanks to the San Antonio Chili Stand that operated at the 1893 Chicago World Fair. Chili parlors began to open outside of Texas in the early 20th century. Today, chili con carne is one of the most popular comfort foods in the United States and the official dish of Texas.

As we’ve already mentioned above, the two key ingredients of chili con carne are chili peppers and meat, although there are vegetarian versions of the dish that obviously don’t contain meat. Beans and tomatoes are often added too, but some chili recipes do not include them. Chili is often served with various toppings and accompaniments such as diced onions, grated cheese, sour cream, tortillas, cornbread, corn chips or tortilla chips, etc.

National Chili Day was founded by Rich Kelly, the corporate manager of Hard Times Cafe based in Alexandria, Virginia. Hard Times Cafe is a restaurant chain established in 1980 by Jim and Fred Parker, who wanted to create an authentic chili parlor that would serve nourishing and inexpensive meals. As of 2022, Hard Times Cafe operated locations in Alexandria, Virginia; Fredericksburg, Virginia; Rockville, Maryland; and Springfield, Virginia.

National Chili Day has been observed on the fourth Thursday of February since at least 2006. The choice of the date makes sense because February is one of the coldest months of the year and so it is the perfect time to enjoy a big bowl of chili that will keep your warm. Naturally, the most obvious way to celebrate this amazing holiday is to cook a pot of chili or go to your favorite chili place if you don’t feel like cooking, but we suggest that you get a little more creative.

For example, you can try a new chili recipe instead of sticking to your favorite one (and don’t be afraid to experiment with unusual ingredients), teach someone to cook chili, host a chili cook-off or potluck dinner at your place, or invite your friends to a chili crawl to find the best chili in town. And don’t forget to share your favorite chili recipes on social media with the hashtags #NationalChiliDay and #ChiliDay to spread the word about this amazing holiday.

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Unofficial Holidays



National Chili Day, observances in the US, unofficial holidays, food days, food holidays, chili con carne